Mark Hobbs, director of the Heartland Caree Center, discusses several grants the facility has received in recent weeks. Photo by Joseph Slacian
By Joseph Slacian
The Heartland Career Center (HCC) has received grants worth more than $250,000 to help upgrade its industrial technology programs.
Officials from HCC, Ivy Tech, the county’s three public school corporations and a variety of supporters gathered Wednesday, Feb. 18 to learn about the grants and how educators envision using them.
“We’re truly blessed to work with a large, collaborative group of people for support of your efforts to continuously improve the education and training for our students from Wabash, Miami, Grant and Huntington counties,” HCC Director Mark Hobbs said, discussing the grants.
Southwood’s Robbie Cole (34) drives for two of his 19 points on Friday night against Northfield. Photo by Gary Andrews
By Gary Andrews
The Southwood boys’ basketball team was one win away from a piece of the Three Rivers Conference title and needed a win over county rival Northfield to get that share Friday. Jumping out to a quick 7-0 start the Knights defended home court by defeating Northfield 64-46 to share the TRC title with Tippecanoe Valley and Manchester.
The quick start was just that as Carson Blair took the Alex Harmon tip off and drained a three just four seconds into the game. Robbie Cole and Brandin Frazier then hit back to back buckets for the 7-0 lead. Tanner Wilcox stopped the run with a bucket with Alex Harmon answering. Jared Short made it 9-3 with a bucket when Noah Kirk hit from long range for a 12-3 Knight lead. The Norse would respond with buckets from Heath Miller and Noah Shear to cut the lead to 12-7 when Mathew Norse drained a three to give the Knights a 15-7 lead. Austin Burns finished the scoring in the quarter as Southwood led 15-9 after one.
The Wabash Lady Apaches basketball team poses for a team shot after winning the regional title on Saturday in Lapel. Photo by Gary Andrews
By Gary Andrews
After winning their seventh straight sectional title the Wabash Lady Apaches made the trip to Lapel on Saturday for the second straight year in search of that elusive regional crown.
It was no easy task as Wabash took on No.9 Shenandoah in game one, holding off a late Raider charge for a 50-47 win and another shot at a regional title. No. 10 Fountain Central defeated Sheridan on a buzzer beater in game two, setting up the championship game. The Lady Apaches trailed most of the game before wearing down the taller Mustangs in the fourth for an exciting 60-52 win to earn the schools first ever girls regional crown.
Southwood’s Abby Houlihan is joined by her parents, Vicki Houlihan (front row, from left) and Scott Houlihan as she signs a letter of intent to play golf at Indiana University Kokomo. She is joined by (back row, from left) Southwood Athletic Director Tom Finicle, IUK Athletic Director Brandon Podgorski, Southwood Golf Coach Rod Cole, and Southwood Assistant Coach JoDee Dale. Photo by Gary Andrews
By Gary Andrews
Southwood senior Abby Houlihan became the first recruit for the new golf program at Indiana University Kokomo. Houlihan signed her letter of intent Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Southwood.
While holding or being a part of 15 golf school records while at Southwood, Houlihan will be looked upon by the Cougars as a leader with the opportunity at playing number one right away.
by Eric Stearley
Personal trainer Jakae Francis, owner of Wabash’s F.I.T. personal training, got the surprise of a lifetime when it was revealed that two of her most successful clients set her up for an appearance on The Steve Harvey Show.
“It was just so unbelievable,” said Francis. “It’s still so surreal that this even happened. I feel like I had tunnel vision. I don’t remember a lot of what I said or what Josh said to me.”
Josh Steele was the mastermind behind the surprise. A client for the past year and a half, he shed nearly half his body weight after deciding to get serious about losing weight two years ago.
“My starting weight was 579 pounds,” said Steele. “Basically, to sum it all up, I hated life. Just getting up in the morning, just doing normal activities that normal people take for granted like tying shoes, going up and down stairs, getting in vehicles. That kind of stuff, it was all a struggle for me every single day. I basically gave up all hopes of my dreams and passion for the future.”
Inspired by weight loss shows on television, Steele tried out for Biggest Loser and nearly made it onto Extreme Weight Loss, but ultimately came up short. Two years ago this week, Steele decided he wasn’t going to let it stop him, that he was going to make big changes whether he was on television or not. After six months of dietary changes and religious trips to the gym, Francis took an interest in him and decided to take him on as a free client, something she had done once before.
“Josh had lost 100 pounds before he even came to me, so I had seen the commitment in him before taking him on,” said Francis. “He was on the right track. Basically what I gave was, I taught him what he was capable of doing that he didn’t realize he was. My job is to take people out of their comfort zone.”
Along with Jakae’s training, Josh had support through a Facebook page he set up called “The Steele Project.” This allowed people from across the country to track his weight loss and watch a real person with real responsibilities succeed in losing an enormous amount of weight. Today, Steele is down to 304 pounds. He’s still a few pounds off his target weight of 280, but is now able to do everything he used to, even fitting into many of the same clothes he wore in high school, more than a decade ago.
“I’m 6’9”, so I’m never going to be 190 pounds or whatever,” said Steele. “I do basically everything now that I did in high school, and actually, I’m in better shape now than I was then. I really have no limits to what I can do now.”
After taking people out of their comfort zone during workouts, Francis was taken out of her own comfort zone when she was asked to appear on national television as a guest on Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show. The producers told her that they discovered her through her business’ Facebook page, F.I.T. Personal Training. They told her that she would be one of four personal trainers featured on a fitness-themed episode. Each of the trainers would be interviewed individually and then engage in some sort of personal training competition, teaching a stay-at-home mom something new that they could do without equipment or a gym membership. The winner of the competition would receive a prize.
“I’m thinking, oh my gosh, I cancelled clients, I have so many people that know I’m coming up here, I’ve gotta win this prize!” said Francis.
She said that they had her convinced, but she was still a little suspicious, because she couldn’t figure out why a nationally broadcasted talk show would choose a personal trainer from the small town of Wabash.
“She was texting me the day before like, ‘If you have anything to do with this, I’m gonna kill you,’” said Steele. “She was freaking out because she didn’t have a clue what they were going to talk about.”
Nonetheless, she took the stage for her individual interview with Harvey, and the true reason for her appearance was quickly revealed.
“Steve made a light joke, because he’s very funny,” said Francis, “and after I answered a few questions and talked for, it was very short, maybe three or four minutes, and he turned to me and said, ‘Well Jakae, you’re actually not on the show to talk about your job or your passion,’ and instantly, I started crying.”
Harvey went on to tell her that there were two people that wanted to thank her for something that she had done for them. She looked around the audience searching for her clients, and onto the stage walked Josh and his mother Mindy, who has lost 80 pounds while training with Francis and her son. She knew it would be Josh and Mindy as soon as Harvey revealed that it was, in fact, a thank you show and not a training competition.
“I think I was so shocked and so overwhelmed at what was happening that basically, when they were sitting there, all I did was cry,” said Francis.
She doesn’t remember much of what she said after the reveal, but she’s looking forward to the broadcast, which she will be viewing with Josh and Mindy at Harvey Hinklemeyers on Wednesday.
Steele is still working on trimming a few more pounds, but two related endeavors are equally as important to him right now. This week, he will take the American College of Sports Medicine test to become certified as a personal trainer. He hopes to extend the opportunity that Francis gave him to client of his own by offering free personal training to a selected individual. In addition, he is working with Francis to train a local 13-year-old who hopes to follow in his footsteps.
“That’s why I put my story out there so publicly,” said Steele. “I don’t if you’ve watched The Biggest Loser or anything like that, but you always hear people say, ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it.’ Well, technically that’s not true, because you’re not in that perfect world. I’m the normal person that has worked 50-60 hours a week and still found the time to work out. So that’s why I put my story out there. I want to let people know that anybody can do it. You just have to believe in yourself.”
In Francis’s mind, she should be the one thanking Steele.
“Josh, in training him, his story has brought me so much, and I didn’t ever intend for that to be the case,” said Francis. “His story has helped me and my business so much that I owe him more than he has ever thought he owed me. Every time I turn around, he’s thanking me, and I’m all the time telling him, ‘Josh, we’re even. You have done so much for me.’”
To watch the big reveal and catch the reactions as they are broadcasted across the country, tune in to NBC tomorrow afternoon. The Steve Harvey Show airs at 2 p.m. on Fort Wayne’s WISE-TV. For more information about Josh, check out The Steele Project on Facebook.